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He Hated Pigeons: Live Sounds In Spite of Lost Love

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hehatedpigeonsThe music in films is now, most often, baked in, inseparable from the moving pictures. But once upon a time it was performed live, as in a band or organ player providing the sounds to mix with the pictures. And one film showing at this year’s Ashland Independent Film Festival is going back to that tradition with a stirring melding of film and live musical performance.

Ingrid Veninger’s He Hated Pigeons follows a young Chilean man named Elias, played by Pedro Fontaine, on a quest of self-discovery as he seeks to accept the recent death of his Canadian-born boyfriend Sebastian. The film is a haunting exploration of mourning and lost love that depicts the process of grieving through intimate, mundane moments made powerful by the fuller context, worth seeing in its own right.

But to strengthen the experience Veninger looks to flautist and contemporary composer Rozalind MacPhail to score the film live at screenings.

“Normally when we go to screenings of a film we hear the same score over and over again but this one transforms depending which city you go to, depending which musician or musicians are playing,” MacPhail says of the live scoring experience. “It’s always a different experience.”

Unlike the static scores American audiences have become accustomed to the score of He Hated Pigeons is ever-changing and evolves before the eyes of film growers at MacPhail’s whim.   

Veninger’s choice to use live scoring in screenings of He Hated Pigeons was highly deliberate and intended to shatter the illusions of permanency we all hold In everyday life. For MacPhail this was a lesson hard learned as it meant accepting that her contributions to the film could only live on in the memory of audience members.

“When Ingrid first talked to me about the project and she was asking me to do it as an impermanent score,” MacPhail says. “Live, never to be repeated and she didn’t want it archived.  That was a concern for me. Throughout my career I have documented every aspect of my growth as an artist. And here I am working on my first full length feature it won’t be recorded. When that screening happens that score dies. I still find it disturbing, but I am commended to experiencing Ingrid’s vision.”

The temporary nature of human existence is just one of the themes Veninger hopes to communicate. While the film touches on elements of macabre it also promotes a celebration of life in the face of great lose. MacPhail is ever conscious of this dichotomy and it reflected in her music improvisations.

“I have gone through a lot of lose in my life and working on the live score I have defiantly felt connection to that sense of loss,” MacPhail says. “It’s a very intense project to work on emotionally speaking. For me it has been a life changing in helping me to deal with my own loss and accepting it more.”

MacPhails journey from orchestra flautist to contemporary film composer has been one of personal growth and determination. Working on projects such as He Hated Pigeons has opened the door to host of new artistic opportunities and challenges to be concurred.

“Film and music are such a great partnership,” she says. “And while that started as me making music for people’s films now it’s got me passionate about making my own films. It’s amazing what kind of transitions you can go through over the years.”


He Hated Pigeons

3 pm, Sat., April 9

Ashland Varsity Theater



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